After my last post, a number of people asked if I was leaving Drupal all together. Perish the thought. :-) However, after a decade at Palantir.net and the five-year Wagnerian Saga that was the Drupal 8 development cycle (complete with singing), I have been asking myself "What next?"
Well, what do I like to do? I like to build. I like to teach. I like to make things better. I like to work with smart people, as colleagues, as community partners, and as customers. I want to be able to have an impact in making something better for other people.
To that end, I am pleased to announce that today is my first day as Director of Runtimes, Integrations, Engines, and Services for Platform.sh.
Today is the end of an era. After just over ten and a half years, this is my last day with Palantir.net.
The past decade has seen Palantir grow from a company of 5 to a company of over 30. From a company that wouldn't touch the GPL with a ten foot pole to a strong advocate for Open Source, Free Software, and Drupal in particular. From a company that did mostly subcontracting work for design firms to an end-to-end soup-to-nuts agency. From having two desktop screen sizes anyone cared about to an infinite scale of screens from 3"-30". From a world where IE 5 for Mac was considered a good browser to one where once again, the latest Microsoft browser is actually good. (Everything old is new again, I suppose.)
After ten years with the same company (which in Internet years is about a millennium) I certainly have stories. There's plenty I could say about Palantir, most of it good. :-) In the end, though, there's one thing in particular that has kept me here for so long.
Palantir.net is the kind of place that has your back.
Three years ago, I ended 2012 with a call to the Drupal community to Get Off the Island. Mainly I wanted to encourage Drupal developers to prepare themselves for the major changes coming in Drupal 8 by connecting with other PHP projects and with the broader community, and called on people to attend non-Drupal conferences in order to visit and learn from other communities.
Two weeks ago (hey, I've been busy and trying to sleep for once), after 1716 days of work by more than 3312 people the Drupal community finally released Drupal 8, the latest release of the best community-driven web software in the world. The blogosphere is already filled with congratulatory blog posts celebrating the immense accomplishment, and deservedly so.
A number of people recently have asked me how I feel about Drupal 8's release, especially around the PHP community. Overall, my answer has to be that I'm happy, but not satisfied.
A few weeks ago I gave a keynote presentation at PNW PHP in Seattle. It was the second time I'd given that particular talk, Eating ElePHPants, a quasi-history and lessons-learned of the process of rebuilding Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.
Overall reception was good, and afterward I was appraoched by a woman who was trying to push for better development practices and refactoring a legacy code base at her company. We've exchanged a few emails since, as she goes about trying to subvert her company's development process for its own good to introduce testing, refactoring legacy code, decoupling, and other concepts that many of us on the conference circuit take for granted.
In the course of that email conversation, she had this to say:
When I first started with this entire effort about 2 months ago, I thought I will never succeed, and I thought I had set myself up to failure - until I heard you speak about your experience. Your talk was highly inspiring and got me excited to invest more time into what I was doing and I believed in myself for the reasons I chose this effort.
All the tech talks helped me realize that I can get somewhere, made it seem within reach, but you and Adam Culp [who also gave a session on refactoring] left me inspired.
In case you hadn't heard yet, Drupal 8 RC 1 is out. And there has been much rejoicing! I'm going to save my own lengthy celebration-and-thank-you post for the 8.0.0 release, so for now I will just point everyone at Campbell Vertesi's post and say "what he said!".
But it's also a good time to consider the impact that Drupal 8 has had on the PHP community. The "off the island" movement has grown large, and people outside of Drupal are echoing the same message. In fact, not one but two conferences this fall are actively trying to build bridges between PHP sub-communities: ZendCon and php[world].
Periodically, there is a complaint that PHP conferences are just "the same old faces". That the PHP community is insular and is just a good ol' boys club, elitist, and so forth.
It's not the first community I've been part of that has had such accusations made against it, so rather than engage in such debates I figured, let's do what any good scientist would do: Look at the data!
Update 2015-08-25: The Joind.in folks have given me permission to release the source code. See link inline. I also updated the report to include a break down by continent.
As most who have met me know, building collaborative communities is a minor passion of mine. 2 years ago, I called on the Drupal community to Get off the Island and connect with other communities.
That call was part of a larger movement within the PHP community to interact more, connect more, and collaborate more than ever before. The PHP Renaissance has been driven in no small part by that greater collaboration between many different PHP communities.
And as a final capstone, I made a challenge to the entire PHP community: Don't just talk to each other, build with each other. Get out of your comfort zone and learn something new, from someone else.
Happy New Year, PHP. Let's Build Something Good together.
As 2014 draws to a close, I look back at the year and realize... holy crap I traveled a lot! I hadn't actually done a fully tally yet, but here's the full rundown:
In all, I flew 64,082 miles (103,130 kilometers for the metric fans in the audience), presented 29 times, with 13 distinct presentations at 20 conferences and user groups across 3 continents, and spent 82 days on the road (not counting non-conference travel). You know what that means?
It means I created about 10 metric tonnes of carbon pollution.
My DrupalCon Amsterdam Core Conversation on Managing Complexity has generated quite a bit of follow-up discussion. That's good; it's a conversation we as a community really need to be having.
There are a few points, though, that I feel bear clarification and further explanation as I fear the point of the talk has gotten lost in the details.
Before continuing, if you haven't yet I urge you to watch the session video as well as the background resources linked from the session page. This is not a new conversation; it's the latest chapter in a very long-running discussion that is larger than the Drupal project, and it behooves us all to be aware of the history and context around it.